Vegetarians in Paradise
 Vegetarian Cooking with Zel

Includes recipes below

For more Hanukkah ideas click below


Supreme Master TV spent a fun day at the home of Zel Allen filming Zel and her kitchen companion, Diana Friedberg, cooking three delicious dishes for their Hanukkah celebration. Together they assembled Brazil Nut and Raisin Cabbage Rolls with Sweet and Sour Sauce for the main course accompanied with golden crisp Potato Latkes topped with homemade Tofu Sour Cream. A traditional festive Jewish meal concludes with compote. Zel and Diana prepared delicious Pear Cranberry Compote and dressed it up with a unique touch--Choco-Wafers. The third segment concludes with a family celebration of the holiday.

The three segments posted on Youtube display the ingredients for each recipe but do include the directions for preparing the dishes. Vegetarians in Paradise is publishing this companion piece to aid our readers in preparing the recipes for Hanukkah. VIP readers can view the film segments by clicking on the three images embedded at the bottom of this page.

While the Old World stuffed cabbage retains its basic sweet and sour roots as a "wholesome and plenty" main dish, it gets a charming makeover for Hanukkah. Credit the Brazil nuts for providing a touch of crunch and the vegan sausage for supporting tradition in a compassionate way. Perfect for serving a hearty gathering, it's well worth the preparation involved and is an ideal make-ahead recipe. Leftovers are just as tasty the next day, sometimes even better. In Jewish tradition, food is not only nourishing, but it's also deeply nurturing.

Brazil Nut & Raisin Cabbage Rolls


Yield: 8 to 10 servings

2 cups (480 ml) water
3/4 cup (180 ml) short grain brown rice
3/4 teaspoon salt

1 large green cabbage, about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds (1 to 1.5 kilos)
4 cups (1 liter) water

1 15-ounce (425g) can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) water
1/4 cup (60 ml) plus 3 tablespoons organic sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 medium onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon water

1 14-ounce (350g) chub Litelife Gimme Lean (beef or sausage flavor) or 8 ounces (225g) diced seitan
2/3 cup (160 ml) Brazil nuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (120 ml) black raisins, plumped in hot water to cover
1/2 cup (120 ml) golden raisins, plumped in hot water to cover
1/2 teaspoon salt Freshly ground pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

  1. Have ready two 9 x 13-inch (23 x 32 cm) ovenproof baking dishes. Combine the water, brown rice, and salt in a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and steam for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Set aside.
  2. TO PREPARE THE CABBAGE, remove any outer, damaged leaves and discard them. Using a paring knife, remove and discard the center core of the cabbage. Place the whole cabbage, core side down, into an 8 to 10-quart (8 to 10 liter) stockpot. Add the water and cover the pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low, and steam for about 15 to 18 minutes. Fork-test for tenderness and remove the cabbage to a dish when soft and pliable. Set aside.
  3. TO MAKE THE SAUCE, combine the tomato paste, water, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a 2 or 3-quart (2 to 3 liter) saucepan and simmer over medium heat, uncovered, for about 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Spoon in enough of the sauce to cover the bottom of the baking dishes.
  4. TO MAKE THE FILLING, combine the onions, bell pepper, garlic, and water in a large, deep skillet. Water-sauté over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes until just tender and turn off the heat. Add small amounts of water as needed to prevent burning the vegetables.
  5. Crumble the Gimme Lean into the skillet and add the Brazil nuts and well-drained raisins. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (177 C). Add the cooked brown rice to the skillet and toss well to distribute the ingredients evenly.
  7. To form the cabbage rolls, separate the cabbage leaves by carefully lifting each one up from the core end. Place one leaf on a dish with the core end of the leaf facing you. Spoon the filling into the center of the leaf. The size of the leaf will dictate the amount of filling to use. Roll up the core end first, then tuck in the sides, and, finally, roll the leaf over to enclose it completely. Place the cabbage roll, seam side down, into the baking dish and repeat the process with the remaining cabbage leaves.
  8. Spoon the remaining sauce over the tops of each cabbage roll. Cover the baking dishes with aluminum foil, shiny side down, and bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes to heat through. Just before serving sprinkle the tops with the parsley and toasted sesame seeds.

The convenience factor of this delicious, unpretentious cranberry compote is that it can be prepared in stages. Standing tall and rising up from the compote are the Chocolate Wafers, soft, ultra-thin bar cookies that contribute a tiny touch of elegance. These can be made several days ahead and stored in the refrigerator. The compote can be made two days ahead and refrigerated until ready to serve. And to make this dessert extra special and give your guests that pampered feeling, gently warm the compote just before serving.

Pear Cranberry Compote


Yield: about 6 servings

Choco-Wafers 1 cup (240 ml) walnuts
1 cup (240 ml) pitted dates
1/4 cup (60 ml) plus 1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons golden raisins
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

2 fresh Anjou or Bosc pears, cored, quartered, and sliced
1 cup (240 ml) fresh cranberries
1/2 cup (120 ml) plus 1 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) black raisins
1/4 cup (60 ml) plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60 ml) water

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

3 tablespoons toasted, coarsely ground walnuts or hazelnuts

  1. TO MAKE THE CHOCO-WAFERS, preheat the oven to 350 degrees (Gas Mark 4) and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Combine the walnuts, dates, water, golden raisins, and cocoa powder in a food processor and process until completely pureed. You may have to stop the machine several times to redistribute the ingredients until everything is well incorporated and the nuts are broken down to a fine, but slightly textured meal. The mixture will be very thick.
  3. Spoon the chocolate mixture into the prepared baking sheet and use the back of the spoon to press it evenly over the bottom of the pan to form a 1/4-inch (2.5 cm) thick rectangle approximately 8 inches by 9 inches (22 x 23 cm).
  4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the wafer is set and almost dry to the touch but still soft. Remove from the oven and cool completely. The large wafer will firm as it cools. Cut the rectangle into 2 or 3-inch (5 to 7.5 cm) squares and set aside until ready to serve or refrigerate and serve later.
  5. TO MAKE THE COMPOTE, combine the pears, cranberries, brown sugar, raisins, lemon juice, cinnamon, vanilla, and water in a 3 or 4-quart (3 or 4 liter) saucepan. Cover the pan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Immediately, reduce the heat to the low, and steam 10 minutes, or until the pears are softened.
  6. To thicken the juice in the pan, combine the cornstarch and water in a small cup or bowl to form a thin paste and add the paste to the gently bubbling pear compote a little at a time, stirring constantly for about 1 minute, or until the sauce is thickened to the desired consistency.
  7. To serve, spoon the compote into small dessert dishes and garnish each with the coarsely ground walnuts or hazelnuts. Finish by tucking 2 Choco-Wafers into the Compote, either into the center or at the edges of each bowl.

No traditional Hanukkah party would be complete without the customary potato latkes or pancakes. Fried in oil until crispy and golden, these potato latkes pay homage to the tiny cruse of oil that led to this holiday celebration. Topped with Tofu Sour Cream or applesauce or both, these flavorful potato treats have become an essential dining experience during the Festival of Lights. Once potatoes are shredded, they tend to oxidize quickly and turn dark. Have the rest of the meal prepared ahead and make shredding and frying the potatoes the last task.

Those watching their waistlines may want to consider baking their latkes rather than frying them. Baked latkes tend to be less crispy and a bit drier on the outside but will be pleasantly moist on the inside. On the downside, the baked latkes are not quite as flavorful as the fried, but there is also an impressive upside. Baking the latkes is far less messy than frying, there is no need to line the serving platter with paper towels, and clean-up is quick and easy. The baked latkes are also much lower in fat and calories because of the missing oil. Experiment with both methods and choose the one that suits your family best.

Potato Latkes


Yield: 16 to 20 three-inch (7.5 cm) latkes

1 to 1 1/2 cups (240 to 360 ml) organic canola oil

1 large sweet onion

1/4 cup (60 ml) matzoh meal
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 1/2 to 3 pounds (1 to 1.5 kilos) Russet potatoes, unpeeled

1 recipe Tofu Sour Cream (See Recipe Below)
Prepared or homemade applesauce

  1. Have ready one or two large skillets and add enough canola oil to generously coat the bottoms of each skillet with 1/4-inch (.5 cm) of the oil. Keep the oil handy to add more as needed while frying. Do not heat the oil yet.
  2. Line two large dishes with paper towels and keep the paper towels handy to place between the layers of cooked latkes.
  3. Coarsely chop the onion and put it in the food processor. Pulse until finely minced and transfer the onions to a large bowl. Add the matzoh meal, salt, onion powder, pepper, and garlic powder.
  4. Coarsely shred the potatoes in the food processor or use a hand grater to shred them. Transfer the shredded potatoes to the bowl with the onions and mix well to distribute the seasonings evenly.
  5. Heat the oil in the skillets over medium-high to high heat. If using an electric frying pan, adjust the thermostat to 375 degrees F. (190.5 C). When the oil is hot, drop about 3 or 4 tablespoons of potato mixture into the skillets for each latke and flatten the latkes slightly with the back of the spoon. If the latkes are too thick, the outsides will be crisp but the insides will not be thoroughly cooked.
  6. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Turn with a spatula, and cook the other side until golden brown. Transfer the cooked latkes to the paper towel-lined platters.
  7. Add more oil to the skillets as needed and repeat the process until all the latkes are fried, placing paper towels between the layers. Serve with Tofu Sour Cream and applesauce.

Baked Potato Latkes
Before preparing the latke mixture, heat the oven to 425 degrees (218 C) and line two or three rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Prepare the latkes just as you would if frying them. Drop the prepared latke mixture onto the parchment, making each one about 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick. Flatten the tops of each latke slightly for even baking. Bake for 20 minutes, remove to a serving platter, and enjoy with sour cream and applesauce.

Sour Cream--that indispensable, lovable, almost magical finishing touch to practically everything-sits on a special pedestal in my kitchen. A dollop of the creamy nirvana is the ideal enhancement to many entrees, appetizers, and casseroles. It's the gravy on the mashed potatoes or the frosting on the cake! What would potato latkes or baked potatoes be without a spoonful of sour cream? Add a smidgeon to garnish soup or to top a fresh fruit salad.

When I came up with this ultra-easy vegan version, life just got better. I love that it's far lower in fat than the traditional sour cream, yet offers the same lavishly tart and creamy qualities as the real thing. If I sound rhapsodic about a bowl of sour cream, I confess I am that passionate about it. You'll find you can also use this recipe as a base for creating a variety of party dips.


Yield: 1 1/2 cups (360 ml)

1 12.3-ounce (350g) box extra firm silken tofu
1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Cut the box of tofu along the dotted lines and drain the liquid. Put the tofu in the food processor and add the remaining ingredients. Process until smooth and creamy. Stop the machine to scrape down the sides of the workbowl once or twice.
  2. Use immediately or chill for several hours to thicken. Refrigerated, Tofu Sour Cream keeps for 1 week.

Note: The extra firm silken tofu helps to create the closest replica to real sour cream. The recipe will work with soft or firm silken tofu but the consistency will be more like a runny sauce. Using non-silken tofu will make the texture and mouth feel chalkier and unpleasant.

To view Part 1, click on the video below.

To view Part 2, click on the video below.

To view Part 3, click on the video below.

Click here for past cookingwithzel@home.comeonin recipes

Vegetarians in Paradise